Ohelen&Choisol appeared on Naver OnStage near the end of December 2020 and that was my first introduction to them. The duo’s spring 2020 EP, Oh, is a pure folk experience. It presents a focus on dual vocals, guitar, and moving melodies throughout each track.
“I’m OK” is a calm and simple start. It’s mainly Ohelen&Choisol providing all the vocals and secondary melodies. The guitar serves as both the underlying melody and the percussion. Added are hand claps and another percussion instrument that I can’t remember the name of. It’s not castanets or claves as far as I can tell, but not something heard that often. The almost five minute track is dense even when it’s only presenting a simple style.
The duo are able to create complex arrangements with a minimal amount of instruments. “Summer” might include a snare drum using brushes or a cajón which is a common instrument used for acoustic performances. The guitar and the percussion speak together really well. The vocals are a bit free flowing, adding to the enjoyment of the bareness.
“Don’t I know” adds even more extra instruments like bells expanding on the percussion elements. Ohelen&Choisol aren’t singing words for most of the song, but adding vocal melodies over the song. Without a deep low end, everything sounds much more intimate.
“She died” and “Paradise” show that the EP is arranged so that each song becomes more dense and complex. From “I’m Ok” to “She died,” the core music is the same, but the songs are different. There’s a lot more polyrhythm engagements and sometimes improvisational breakdowns.
Ohelen&Choisol’s Oh is foundationally a folk album, but the duo add a lot of unique pieces through the percussion. The EP’s mixing also uses the left and right channels in unique ways. This enables a different type of listening experience that shouldn’t be missed.